Island in the City

The founder of Tempo, a Newark-based TV network with 3.5 million views on 24 Caribbean islands, talks about the company's success.

Courtesy of Tempo.
Courtesy of Tempo.

For Frederick Morton, New Jersey is like Switzerland. “It’s neutral territory,” says the founder of Tempo, the Newark-based TV network that airs music and lifestyle programming to 3.5 million viewers on 24 Caribbean islands.

What he means is that Newark shields him from accusations of favoritism. “Caribbeans have a lot of things in common—food, music, certain ideals. But we also have wonderful differences,” says the 42-year-old native of the U.S. Virgin Islands. “A lot of people are nationalistic…We cover festivals and carnivals throughout the region, and if there’s one we haven’t gotten to, boy do I hear about it.”

Newark is also where Morton landed as a Rutgers law student in the early 1990s. After he earned his degree, he spent more than a decade as an attorney for companies such as Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick and MTV Networks in Manhattan. Then he returned to Brick City to start his business.

“I love the energy of Manhattan, but I also love getting out of the city,” says Morton, who lives in Montclair. “Newark to me provides a nice in-between, even though it has its challenges.”

Challenges for the 5-year-old network include securing distribution deals with U.S. carriers. “There are lovers of Caribbean culture here too,” Morton says. Another challenge is remembering where he plants his feet—especially this time of year.

“The Caribbean community here is so strong you can to some extent feel like you’re still at home,” Morton says. “I can hear the music, speak the dialect. I just have to remember to put a coat on when I go outside.”

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